When Sidney Crosby was available in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, people started referring to it as the “Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes,” and subsequently him as “The Next One.”
After being selected with the first-overall pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Crosby has since flourished in the NHL and has lived up to his “Next One” praise.
In his debut season in 05-06, Crosby finished sixth in league for scoring with 102 points (39 G, 63 A) and was a runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy — which was won by Washington Capitals left-wing Alexander Ovechkin.
By his second season, “Sid the Kid” led the NHL with 120 points (36 G, 84 A) to capture the Art Ross Trophy (Leagues-leading scorer), becoming the youngest player and the only teenager to win a scoring title in any major North American professional sport.
That same season, Crosby also won the Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP) and the Lester B. Pearson Award (NHLPA Most Outstanding Player), becoming the seventh player in NHL history to earn all three awards in one year.
Crosby started the 2007-2008 campaign with the team’s captaincy and led them to the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, where they were defeated by the Detroit Red Wings in six games.
The Pens then returned to the Finals against Detroit the following year and won in seven games — Crosby became the youngest captain in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup.
In the 2009-10 season, Crosby scored a career-high 51 goals, tying him with Steven Stamkos for the Rocket Richard Trophy — who totaled 109 points.
In 2010-11 season, The 26-year-old forward sustained a concussion as a result of hits to the head in back-to-back games. The injury left him sidelined for ten and a half months.
After playing eight games in the 2011-12 year, Crosby thought it was all in the past, but much to his dismay the ailment returned in December 2011 and he didn’t play until mid-March 2012.
In the shortened season due to the lockout this past year, Crosby finished an MVP-like season with 56 points (15 G, 41 A) in 36 games — missing a handful of games due to an injury that involving surgery on his jaw.
The Canadian native has been one of the greatest players in the National Hockey League, if not the entire world, in his short eight seasons.
However, Crosby has lacked one thing throughout his fantastic career — grit.
“The Great One” has always been labeled by hockey fans as being ‘soft’ and “unable to handle physical play.”
And while some of the words used by opposing teams’ fans may be too much, Crosby has shown time and time again that he can’t really handle the hard-hitting play of some of his fellow NHL players.
Last season for the Penguins, Crosby totaled only 21 hits in the 36 games that he played in — ranking him #541 in the league.
The 26-year-old Pittsburgh forward has only battled six fights in his eight seasons in the NHL — the most significant being against Flyers captain Claude Giroux in the first-round of 2012 playoffs.
As mentioned before, the Penguins forward has been unable to stay in the lineup the entire season for almost three seasons for the team — due to his numerous concussions and recently injured jaw (which wasn’t his fault).
And while Crosby is no doubt one of the best offensive players in hockey, he really could improve upon his game if he works on building up his gritty presence on the ice during training camp for the 2013-14 season.
If Crosby could strengthen his grittiness, he may be able to get around players and push his way into the crease — possibly even leading to him having a better offensive game.
Plus, he could add another factor to his game that could help him in the defensive side of the ice — as well as his ability to hold his own on hits.
While Crosby’s flaw isn’t one that really takes a lot away from his impressive play on the ice, it is something that could really put down any questioning of “Sid the Kid” not being the best hockey player in the world.